Reports one day suggest the respiratory outbreak in China might be slowing, the next brings word of thousands more cases. Even the experts have whiplash in trying to determine if the epidemic is getting worse, or if a backlog of the sick is finally getting counted.
Continuing questions about the new virus are complicating health authorities’ efforts to curtail its spread around the world. And the United States is taking the first steps to check that cases masquerading as the flu won’t be missed, another safeguard on top of travel restrictions and quarantines.
Here’s what you should know about the illness:
WHAT IS THE NEW VIRUS?
It’s a never-before-seen type of coronavirus, a large family of viruses that affect both animals and people. Some types cause the common cold. But two other types have caused severe disease outbreaks before: SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, in late 2002, and MERS, or Middle East respiratory syndrome, which first appeared in 2012.
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